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Weekly Pause & Ponder

Service as an expression of joy is not structured around the concept of doing things for others so much as acting in a way that dissolves the boundary of self and others. The joy experienced in this context is an expression of a non-dual state of being.

The Conscious Activist by James O’Dea, p. 172


Hidden In Plain Sight

Accordion to scientific studies, 90% of people do not realize I replaced the beginning of this sentence with an instrument.  Fascinating, don’t you think?  Had you not noticed or did you stumble over the ‘accordion’?  It is right there, in plain sight.  What is it about our tendency not to see what’s right there under our nose, so to say?  While driving to work this morning I noticed a splash of colour - a jogger in blue shorts and a bright red T-shirt.  Nothing unusual about that, you might say.  Well, yes it was. A mere 24 hours earlier the temperatures here in London, Ontario, sat at around -15oC.  This morning they soared to a balmy 8oC. The jogger I admired had donned his running togs and embraced the day with joie de vivre, whereas those with whom he shared the sidewalk were bundled up in subdued colours.  It reminded me of the saying, ‘Two men looked out from prison bars; one saw mud, the other stars.’ 

So how do we daily learn to see what’s hiding in plain sight?  Spotting a chameleon with its incredible penchant for camouflage can be near impossible.  Carefully watching a magician, whose tantalizing skills at illusions mesmerize us, can also truly test our powers of observation.  And the list goes on.  Then there are the obvious everyday ‘miracles’ that can easily elude our observation.  One I find most fascinating is the force of gravity.  It, too, is literally right under our noses. Though we do not see it, we intimately know its magnetic power to pull whatever we drop downwards.  And it keeps us grounded.

Which brings me to the enigma of God’s grace.  What is it?  The quirky spiritual writer Anne Lamott admits: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. It can be received gladly or grudgingly, in big gulps or in tiny tastes, like a deer at the salt” (Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith).  Grace is God’s magnetic ‘force of gravity’ gently pulling us towards God.  Grace is all around us, albeit hidden in plain sight.  As Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1Cor. 13:12).  Maybe the challenge for us who ‘see dimly’ isn’t to see with our eyes, but to see with the eyes of the heart.  If we see as ‘in a mirror dimly’ this isn’t because God hides.  God is ‘hidden in plain sight’ in the very fabric of our lives and in all of creation.  God does not hide. God is there in plain sight, if only we would see.

Sr. Magdalena Vogt, CPS



We Were Wrong

As a child, homosexuality to me was a weird entity spoken of in secrecy among friends.  As an adolescent and young adult, I viewed homosexuality as a moral failing and I was oblivious to the concept of transgender.  As a counselling student, my beliefs and opinions were challenged. In a conversation among colleagues the sadness with which a physician spoke of doing exit physical examinations of suspected homosexuals being forced out of the armed forces raised new questions for me to ponder. We all have memories of malicious attacks on homosexuals in city parks and of the infamous “bath house” invasion by police in Toronto. But social norms have changed, politically and socially even if the evolution of our attitudes and beliefs is still a metamorphosis in process rather than an achievement. On November 28, 2017, the Premier of Canada declared “We were wrong” and delivered a heartfelt public apology for the mistreatment of LGBTQ people in Canada.  The Government announced a $145-million compensation settlement and a promise to expunge convictions for the crime of being gay. Our changing perception of gender differences is far from universal or free of conflict. Still, the rapidity of this social evolution within such a short period of time in our country is startling and hopeful.

Disparate beliefs and attitudes are sources of division, violence, and conflict in our world today. Persecution of ethnic minorities in some cases constitutes genocides; mass rape of women by soldiers is used as a weapon of war; we are witnesses to the greatest forced migration of persecuted minorities in the history of the world. Canadians are not exempt from xenophobia as is evident in our historical treatment of blacks, Indigenous peoples, Jews, and immigrants or the struggle to honour our French and English heritage. Our Jewish citizens are still the most frequent targets of persecution and there exists significant opposition to refugees. Yet our difficulties are minor in comparison to problems in many other countries. The efforts of our Government and ordinary citizens to welcome and care for refugees and immigrants has been outstanding. Perhaps our history of forming a nation out of our English and French forbears has increased our capacity to welcome people from other nations. Although there is ample room for improvement we are well positioned to contribute to peace in our world. As ordinary citizens and as a nation we have an obligation to use our strengths in asking our Country and our world  a home where all are welcome and accepted as equals. This begins with some soul searching – reflecting on our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. Our actions spring from our beliefs of who we truly are, human beings created by God who owe to others respect for whom they are: human beings created by God.

Pat McKeon, CSJ




Weekly Pause & Ponder

There is no amount of darkness that can extinguish the inner light.  The important thing is not to spend our lives trying to control the environment around us. The task is to control the environment within us.

Joan Chittister.  www.azquotes.com




Q: What does the Buddhist writer, Pema Chodron, and a group whose subtitle is more solidarity, more care and more joy have in common?

A: They both use the term, the leap, to describe what they see as necessary in our culture.

Pema Chodron is speaking of a leap in consciousness, in the way we see ourselves as the human and more than human community. The LEAP organisers also see a shift in consciousness expressed in real and concrete action toward becoming this community characterised by solidarity, care and joy.

One of these shifts is the vivid emergence of a movement called Blue Community which aims to have water firmly embedded as a human right. At a very tangible level it means refusing to drink bottled water when it has no meaning beyond us being lulled into the idea of bottled water as a need. More significantly though, being part of the Blue Community movement means working at a policy level to see that clean water is possible for every community and also that water is not to be sold for profit but is rather to stay as a common good shared by all.

The Council of Canadians in conjunction with CUPE [Canadian Union of Public Employees] are taking the initiative to lead a global movement assuring the rights of all to clean potable water and sanitation. In the tag phrase of the LEAP movement, on this eve of 2018, what could give more solidarity, care and joy than that.

Let’s make it happen!

Margo Ritchie, CSJ


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